Monday Spotlight: Juggling it all pays off for Central senior

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WOODSTOCK – Central High School senior Sydney Crosser does it all – academically, athletically and still finds time to give back to the community.

Crosser, 18, of Maurertown, has been an All-A Honor Roll student since the start of high school and has taken Advanced Placement and dual-enrollment courses in government, calculus and English to get ahead in her studies.

She said she also keeps busy as president of the school’s National Honor Society and is a member of the school’s new program, Friendly Giants, a mentorship program created by another Central High School student that gives kids at W.W. Robinson Elementary School extra attention and builds self-esteem.

Outside of school, Crosser has served the community through organizations such as Soul Food, March of Dimes, local animal shelters and through tutoring.

“It’s great to give back to the community,” she said. “Anytime that you can help the people that have shaped you, I feel that’s important.”

Crosser has also been captain of the varsity swimming team for 10th, 11th and 12th grades, as well as captain of the varsity soccer team during 10th and 11th grades. She added that she has participated in these sports since she was about 5 years old.

She said juggling all these activities has been very rewarding, but can be challenging to manage everything she has to do in a day.

“I just put them into little boxes,” she said about all of her commitments, “and I focus on one thing at a time because it is a lot.”

For anyone with a busy workload, she advises them to follow their dreams and use the resources available to them.

“It’s important to recognize what you have now and there are so many building blocks that you have at your hands,” she said. “You just need to realize what they are and use them to your best ability.”

Crosser said she will be attending the University of Virginia in the fall and will major in biology with a pre-med track.

“I really enjoy biology because it talks a lot about cells and how things work together,” she said, “and I think that really applies to real life.”

“I also think the sciences are really neat because there are so many things that are unknown and people are constantly making discoveries,” she added about why she loves the field of science.

After graduating college, she hopes to pursue a career as a pediatrician because she loves working with children. As a part of the Friendly Giants program and coaching, she has gained an appreciation for helping children and wants to turn that passion into a career.

In college, she hopes to continue diving into sports and programs through clubs at the university and is excited to meet new people.

“I think it’s really important to meet new people,” she said. “The best way is to try out as many new things as possible.”

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or


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Fire destroys Front Royal business

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FRONT ROYAL — Firefighters responding to a 911 call late Saturday evening discovered flames shooting from the Strong Oaks Workshop at 1868 N. Royal Ave.

The fire destroyed the old stone building along with a wood storage building next to it. It also damaged two auxiliary buildings and seven vehicles on the property, according to Warren County Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico.

The 911 call came in to Warren County dispatchers around 10:30 p.m. Saturday. Upon arrival, Warren County Fire and Rescue crews found a “rapidly progressing fire,” Maiatico said Sunday from the scene as he prepared to close down work there 14 hours after the first trucks had arrived.

The building, he said, housed a manufacturing plant that “had a lot of combustibles – a lot of timber, finishing products, varnish.”

Cause of the fire has not been determined, and no injuries were reported, Maiatico said. The building, he said, was occupied, but added they are not releasing that information at this time since the investigation is continuing.

While battling the blaze with water from hydrants and the Shenandoah River from a hill above the structure as well as in front of it, trains were traveling on the tracks located nearby. Maiatico said firefighters had to pull back from fighting the blaze due to safety reasons when a train went by. He said they contacted Norfolk Southern and praised the railway for assisting them by stopping trains down the line.

Tom Sayre, a member of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, was at the fire scene late Sunday morning. He said he lives nearby and saw flames from his home’s window after learning about the fire on Facebook late Saturday night. The building that was destroyed, he said, housed a thriving woodworking business operated by Mike Schmiedicke.

“He’s the greatest guy,” Sayre said, noting that the business, which made furniture as well as caskets, had several employees.

“A great guy, he really is and the people who work, employed there, I know most of them and they are the salt of the Earth kind of people. Wonderful people,” Sayre said.

Maiatico described the large stone building that was destroyed as a “very old, magnificent building” and said he hates to see any building – a business or a home – destroyed by fire. He reminded residents and business owners to check their fire alarms.

The three-alarm blaze was battled by fire companies from around the region. Also responding to the scene, Maiatico said, were members of the Front Royal Police Department and personnel from the fire marshal offices from Fauquier and Frederick counties.

Contact Editor Linda O’Dell Ash at 540-465-5137 ext. 163, or


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NASCAR Monster Energy Cup-Toyota Owners 400 Results

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At Richmond International Raceway
Richmond, Va.
Lap length: 0.75 miles
(Start position in parentheses)

1. (5) Joey Logano, Ford, 400 laps, 42 points.

2. (15) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 400, 50.

3. (16) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400, 47.

4. (4) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 400, 33.

5. (6) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 400, 47.

6. (10) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 400, 38.

7. (13) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 400, 39.

8. (9) Kurt Busch, Ford, 400, 29.

9. (25) Aric Almirola, Ford, 400, 28.

10. (3) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 400, 35.

11. (17) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 400, 26.

12. (11) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 400, 25.

13. (29) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 400, 24.

14. (18) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 400, 38.

15. (8) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 400, 27.

16. (7) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 400, 21.

17. (23) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 400, 20.

18. (21) Danica Patrick, Ford, 400, 19.

19. (30) David Ragan, Ford, 400, 18.

20. (38) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 400, 17.

21. (28) Landon Cassill, Ford, 400, 16.

22. (19) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 400, 15.

23. (1) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 400, 33.

24. (14) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 400, 13.

25. (26) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 400, 12.

26. (24) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 400, 13.

27. (36) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 400, 10.

28. (32) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 400, 9.

29. (27) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 399, 8.

30. (12) Dale Earnhardt Jr, Chevrolet, 398, 7.

31. (31) Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 398, 6.

32. (34) Corey LaJoie, Toyota, 396, 5.

33. (33) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 395, 4.

34. (37) Timmy Hill, Chevrolet, 393, 0.

35. (35) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 392, 2.

36. (2) Ryan Blaney, Ford, accident, 378, 1.

37. (22) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 333, 1.

38. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, accident, 4, 1.


Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 93.685 mph.

Time of Race: 3 hours, 12 minutes, 8 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 0.775 seconds.

Caution Flags: 9 for 53 laps.

Lead Changes: 18 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders: M.Kenseth 1-163; B.Keselowski 164-204; M.Kenseth 205; D.Hamlin 206-228; K.Harvick 229-237; B.Keselowski 238-251; K.Harvick 252; D.Hamlin 253-286; B.Keselowski 287-319; R.Newman 320-344; K.Harvick 345; B.Keselowski 346-357; Ky.Busch 358; B.Keselowski 359-360; D.Hamlin 361-362; B.Keselowski 363-370; J.Logano 371-378; K.Larson 379-383; J.Logano 384-400.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): M.Kenseth, 2 times for 162 laps; B.Keselowski, 6 times for 104 laps; D.Hamlin, 3 times for 56 laps; R.Newman, 1 time for 24 laps; J.Logano, 2 times for 23 laps; K.Harvick, 3 times for 8 laps; K.Larson, 1 time for 4 laps; Ky.Busch, 1 time for 0 laps.

Top 16 in Points: 1. K.Larson, 398; 2. M.Truex, 358; 3. C.Elliott, 346; 4. J.Logano, 333; 5. B.Keselowski, 327; 6. K.Harvick, 286; 7. J.McMurray, 282; 8. J.Johnson, 270; 9. C.Bowyer, 266; 10. Ky.Busch, 235; 11. D.Hamlin, 231; 12. R.Blaney, 229; 13. R.Newman, 225; 14. T.Bayne, 216; 15. R.Stenhouse, 201; 16. E.Jones, 193.

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Logano pulls away to win at Richmond

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Joey Logano pulled away after a restart with about 20 laps to go to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway on Sunday.

Logano, who qualified fifth but had to start 37th after making a transmission change, grabbed the lead from Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski when Keselowski had to make a defensive move to keep Kyle Busch from sneaking past him on the inside.

Logano then had to get around Kyle Larson and five others who stayed on the track when everyone else pitted with just over 20 laps remaining. He made quick work of that challenge and pulled away while Keselowski and Hamlin dueled for the second position.

Keselowski, who had the dominant car for the second half of the race, held on for second, followed by Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kevin Harvick.


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CEO says NASCAR ‘not isolated’ in fighting to attract fans

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France says the challenge of connecting with a new, younger generation of fans is something that all sports are trying to figure out, and one that NASCAR will take some time to figure out.

Speaking at Richmond International Raceway before Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, France compared the challenge sports are facing to the one retailers are facing because of the popularity of online shopping.

NASCAR has seen crowds shrink at virtually every track, many of which have removed seats, and its television ratings have plummeted. At Richmond, which once routinely seated more than 100,000 fans for races in the premier Cup series, only 60,000 seats remain and they were not close to full for Sunday’s 400-lap race.

“We’re not isolated here,” France said. “Every sport is trying to unlock the new consumption levels and fan interest by a younger demographic. Of course we love our core fan and everyone does, but every sport is thinking carefully about how to reach the millennial fan to get them excited about their sport.”

He said NASCAR will convene a summit next month in Charlotte, North Carolina, bringing in experts from various fields, to discuss the issue.

France also downplayed the difficulty that some teams are having securing sponsorship for next season.

“It’s only April. Those kinds of decisions from corporate America typically get made in August and September, something like that,” he said. “We’ll always have that. That’s not anything abnormal.”

One advantage NASCAR gives sponsors, he said, is, “They can’t own a team in any other sport, but they can here.”

France also paid tribute to Dale Earnhardt Jr., the sport’s most popular driver, who announced last week that he will retire at the end of the season, making him the fourth star to plan to quit racing in less than three years.

“He’s meant a lot to the sport in many ways, on and off the track. Not just his popularity and whatever, but carrying on the Earnhardt name in such a good way that he was always competitive on the track, always raced at a high level and always worked with NASCAR to make the sport better, just like his father did,” France said.

With his retirement, Earnhardt will join Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards in walking away from racing. France said an exodus like that is not all that unusual in the sport.

“If you look back at our history, we always tend to see drivers in waves move in one direction so it’s not uncommon to have three, four or five of your top drivers exit for different reasons in a short period of time, two years, whatever it is,” he said, noting they often can do it because they have financial stability.

The good news, he said, is that the talent pool being counted on to produce future stars is deep.

Kyle Larson, 24, began Sunday’s race leading the point standings, with 21-year-old Chase Elliott second. Both drivers have registered six top-10 finishes in the first eight races of the season. Joey Logano, 26, and 23-year-old Ryan Blaney also began the day in the top 10, with Logano in fourth place and Blaney 10th.


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Chamber of Commerce announces new scholarships

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FRONT ROYAL – The Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors announced the creation of two scholarships during its annual awards dinner this week.

The awards will be named in honor of two members of the Chamber of Commerce, Roy K. Boyles and James M. Eastham. Boyles died on Dec. 30.  Eastham is currently battling cancer.

During the awards dinner, Doug Stanley, a former county administrator who announced the scholarships, described both people as active members in the community.

Boyles served as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce twice and chairman of the Warren County School Board for five years. Eastham, Stanley said, is a “glutton for punishment” who was willing to serve two terms as mayor of Front Royal. Eastham was also president of the Front Royal Rotary Club and chair of the Warren Memorial Hospital, the Front Royal Planning Commission and the Chamber of Commerce.

“Their two scholarships are established to recognize Roy and Jim’s contributions to our community,” Stanley said.

He said high school seniors will be able to apply for the awards, which will be judged by a committee of past Chamber of Commerce chairs. For the application, students will write a 300-word essay describing their career plans, send in a list of work experience and  two letters of recommendation from non-relatives.

“Scholarships will be awarded based on the applicant’s interest in continuing education, participation and leadership in school and community activities and a reputation for good citizenship and moral character,” Stanley said.

Eastham’s wife Denise went to the podium to accept the honor on behalf of her husband, who she said was in the hospital.

Following the announcement of the scholarships, members of the chamber’s   board requested money to fund the scholarships.

Beyond announcing the creation of the scholarship, the board celebrated local citizens and entrepreneurs during the annual awards ceremony.

The event began with Mike O’Dell, the emcee, thanking the sponsors of the dinner and the current board members. The Northern Virginia Daily was one of those sponsors, and Mike Gochenour, publisher of the newspaper, is a past chairman of the Chamber of Commerce.

John “Boomer” Stufflebeam, an ex-NFL punter and a former Navy admiral, spoke about the importance of unity within the business community. By uniting together, Stufflebeam said, businesses could help ensure that their communities flourish.

Stufflebeam also emphasized the importance of self-examination in building successful enterprises.

“The biggest risk is to be willing to open oneself up to examination,” Stufflebeam said.

The Chamber of Commerce awarded two people with Public Safety Contributors of the Year Awards: firefighter and medic Raymond Cross and Detective David Fogle of the Front Royal Police Department. Cross, O’Dell said, was awarded both Firefighter of the Year and EMT of the Year awards.

“He has saved many people from the perils of cardiac arrest, drug overdoses, stroke and the list goes on,” O’Dell said.

Fogle, meanwhile, led efforts to investigate criminal incidents at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1860, resulting in an indictment.

William Huck, the owner of C & C Frozen Treats, won the award for Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Huck, who was wearing a bright blue suit with palm trees on it, said he was humbled by the award.

“I look forward to many, many years of enjoyment — and loud suits,” Huck said.

The Nonprofit of the Year Award went to the Front Royal Rotary Club, which conducted mock interviews with high school students and provided all third-graders in Warren County with dictionaries this year.

The Education Contributor of the Year Award went to Rich Follett, coach of the Forensics and Theatre team at Skyline High School.

The Business of the Year Award went to Ray and Tina Bramble, the owners of Aire Serv of the Shenandoah Valley. Stanley praised them for their efforts in the community.

“There aren’t many nonprofits, community events, youth sports leagues that they have not supported in some way,” Stanley said.

The Citizen of the Year Award went to Tim and Tammy Darr. Tim Darr was awarded the Community Leadership Award from the Warren-Page NAACP in 2012, while Tammy Darr is active in the Warren County Humane Society, serving as a board member.

The Community Impact Award went to Randolph-Macon Academy, which Stanley praised for providing volunteer work and funding for several local charities. In his speech, Stufflebeam, a graduate and current trustee of R-MA, also praised the school.

Contact staff writer Max Lee at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or


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Stiffer rioting penalties vetoed by Va. Gov. McAuliffe

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WASHINGTON — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill aimed at protecting first responders because it does not go as far as he wished.

The proposed law would have made inciting a violent riot against police, fire and EMTs a felony with a five- to 20-year prison sentence.

McAuliffe wanted the bill to also include riots against a person’s race, religion, color, sexual orientation or national origin.

That amendment was rejected.

InsideNova reports the bill’s sponsor, Del. Scott Lingamfelter, called the proposed amendment “pretty political.”

Lawmakers said the change was not relevant to the original intent of the bill.

The proposal came after the fatal shooting of five Dallas police officers during what had been a peaceful protest last July.

Inciting a riot is already a felony in Virginia, however this bill would have strengthened the penalty.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia told the paper that the proposed law was an attempt to chill any protest efforts in the Old Dominion.

Lingamfelter said he disagreed with that characterization.

In his veto, the governor wrote, “Conspiring to riot against a law enforcement officer is a serious crime, as is inciting a riot against a person because of his race, religious convictions, color, sexual orientation, or national origin. House Bill 1791 in its original form fails to strike this needed balance.”

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AP PHOTOS: Slave quarters rebuilt at Madison’s Montpelier

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MONTPELIER STATION, Va. (AP) — The homes of slaves who toiled on President James Madison’s estate in Virginia are being rebuilt for the first time.

Crews at Montpelier, the mansion in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, are excavating and reconstructing six structures on what’s called the South Yard, where domestic slaves lived and worked.

The slave quarters were cleared away more than 150 years ago and planted over with grass. The reconstruction began in 2015 after a gift from David Rubenstein, a Washington philanthropist and history buff.

Rubenstein also gave money to pay for refurnishing parts of the home where Madison drafted ideas that would become the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He told The Associated Press at the time that he wanted to help make the estate more authentic.

The dwellings, smokehouses and kitchen will be part of Montpelier’s new exhibition, The Mere Distinction of Color, which opens in June.

Vice President of Museum Programs Elizabeth Chew said the exhibition will be a “new chapter” in terms of how the estate talks and teaches about slavery, with a greater emphasis on what life would have been like for the slaves, as well as the legacy of slavery on contemporary society.

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Girlfriend’s on-air killing drives anchorman into politics

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — The tipping point for Chris Hurst came last fall while reporting on a shooting at a rail car factory. When the camera turned off, he wept.

Just more than a year earlier, the 29-year-old’s reporter girlfriend was gunned down while conducting an interview on live TV. Now, Hurst was using the same truck that Alison Parker had used the last day of her life to report live from the scene of another shooting.

Hurst realized he needed a drastic life change.

The former TV anchor is now running for political office, challenging a National Rifle Association-backed candidate for a competitive Virginia state House seat in a firearm friendly part of the state. Hurst sees it as a way to honor the memory of the woman he thought he’d marry and to give back to the community that helped him through his darkest days.

“When we understand that life is fragile, does that mean we give up and say life ain’t worth it? No,” Hurst said at a local Democratic committee meeting in March. “That’s when we say it is worth it, and we do what we can when we’re here to try to help another person.”

Hurst was living with Parker when she and cameraman Adam Ward were fatally shot while reporting for WDBJ-TV in August 2015. The gunman, Vester Flanagan, posted video of the attack online and killed himself hours later.

After the shooting, Hurst became the public face of the grieving Roanoke station, bringing him national attention and a large social media following. That helped him become one of the top House candidate fundraisers last reporting period.

The Pennsylvania native, who quit his TV job and moved from Roanoke to Blacksburg to run in the 12th District, has been labeled a carpetbagger by Republicans looking to protect Del. Joseph Yost, a well-liked moderate. The district is among the few competitive House seats in southwest Virginia, a rural Republican stronghold.

Hurst is one of several young Democrats new to politics running for a Virginia House seat this year. President Donald Trump’s election has fueled a new interest in state and local politics, party leaders say, and Democrats hope they can put a dent in Republicans’ sizeable House majority.

Hurst is no fan of Trump but says his reasons for running are more personal.

While at the station, he faced constant reminders of Parker. He struggled with walking past the place where he was told she was dead, and with covering stories about violence and death, he said.

“I knew that I could get myself up and pull myself together and do it, but I think it was at the price of my humanity,” Hurst said.

Now, he says, his grief is lessening because he feels like what is doing has purpose.

“It has given him determination,” said Alison’s father, Andy Parker. “We both had to seek a way to make sense out of all of this.”

Republicans are playing up their candidate’s deep local roots and trying to paint Hurst as an outsider seeking political advancement. Yost, 30, has earned a reputation in Richmond as a humble, hard worker and champion for better mental health services.

“There’s a difference between being on air and covering news as opposed to me, being in my district for the last 30 years,” Yost said. “I think there’s just a lot of questions and concern among the community about somebody who’s moving in to challenge me.”

While Parker’s death drove Hurst into action, he treads lightly on the issue of gun control in these communities, where the gun culture runs deep.

Hurst, a gun owner, says that among other things he’d like to empower law enforcement to petition courts to have guns taken away from dangerous people. But he insists firearms aren’t his top priority. He says he’s focused on issues such as education and economic development.

Andy Parker, whose gun-control advocacy has made him a self-described “lightning rod,” said he expects Republicans will try to link Hurst to him and call Hurst a “gun grabber.”

“We’re joined at the hip because of her and our love for her,” Parker said. “He’s not going to run away from it.”

Mae Midkiff, Giles County Republican Committee chairwoman, said she doesn’t think Republicans will make guns an issue in the race.

But Midkiff said if Hurst thinks he has an easy road to Richmond, he’s mistaken.

“It would’ve just thrilled us to death to see Mr. Hurst stay in Roanoke and do the news,” Midkiff said. “But if he comes into our territory, I’m going to have to tell you, he’s going to have a battle,” she said.


Associated Press reporter Alan Suderman contributed to this report from Richmond.


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